Best Adirondack Chairs: Polywood vs Trex
Polywood and Trex are two types of wood used in the construction of the best adirondack chairs. They have different characteristics which make them suitable for different purposes. The most important thing to remember when choosing one type over another is that they both require care and maintenance.
The main difference between these two types of wood is their thickness. A thick piece of polywood will not bend easily and it may even crack if bent too much. On the other hand, a thin piece of polywood will break if bent too much or twisted.
Trex is thicker than polywood and therefore less likely to warp and twist. However, it does not last as long as polywood because its strength decreases with increasing size.
A third difference is that polywood tends to rot faster than trex. So while polywood lasts longer, it costs more to maintain.
How do I choose the right type of wood?
When buying a new chair, you need to decide what kind of wood you want. You can buy a single piece or several pieces from different sources such as lumberyards, home centers and hardware stores. The advantage of buying from a home center or a hardware store is that it will be cheaper than buying from a lumberyard. The disadvantage, however, is that you will not be able to find a single piece large enough to make the chair of your choice.
You should also consider the style of the chair before you buy wood for it. Keep in mind that not all types of wood are suitable for all styles of chairs. For example, pine is a soft wood and not suitable for Adirondack chairs.
You are better off using a hardwood such as oak. If you want to buy a chair that will last longer, make sure you buy hardwood.
You should also buy the wood with enough time to allow for proper curing before the chair is assembled. To reduce the chances of warping and twisting, let the wood acclimate to your local conditions. Wood that has been properly stored and cured for at least a month will not warp or twist.
When is the wood ready to be assembled?
Check if the wood is ready by checking for its moisture content. If the wood is still damp, the wood will only dry after being exposed to the air for at least a week. If it is dry out, however, then it could take more than a year before it is ready to assemble.
Once you have finished building your chair, apply a couple of coats of wood hardener to protect the wood from rotting.
What type of maintenance is required?
If you want your chair to last a long time, you need to do some maintenance. The most important thing you can do is keep it dry. If you fail to do this, the chair will crack and eventually fall apart. You should sit on the chair in the shade so that it is not directly exposed to sunlight.
Once a month, you should apply wood hardener or a clear wood sealer to the chair. This will protect the wood from rotting and prolong its life span.
Prevent cracking by keeping your chair away from high heat or direct sunlight. If you use cushions with your chair, make sure you get rid of any mold as soon as possible. If you find any cracks, fill them with wood filler as soon as possible.
When should I replace my chair?
As mentioned earlier, the longer you use your chair, the more likely it is to eventually break. Chairs are built using wooden parts that are joined together with nails and screws. The joints provide the strength and flexibility of the chair but as these joints loosen over time, the chair begins to deteriorate and lose support.
If you see that your chair is beginning to show signs of wear and tear, it may be time to replace it. At this point you might as well get the most out of your money and buy a new one.
You can easily replace your chair yourself or get a professional to do it for you. If you are handy around the house, feel free to try it yourself. You can find chair parts online and follow the simple instructions that come with them.
While the wooden parts may be the most important part of the chair, they are not the only thing that needs replacing. You should also consider replacing the fabric and foam cushion. If the chair has been exposed to the elements, the cushion may have become brittle and the fabric torn or faded.
Most of the time, it is cheaper to replace the cushion and fabric than to try and clean them. You can always get new foam from your local craft store and ask them to cut the fabric to size. It is best to discard the old fabric and just put on a new layer of upholstery.
How can I extend the life of my chair?
The easiest way to extend the life of your chair is to keep it dry. As mentioned above, if you leave it outside, make sure you place it in a shady spot so that it doesn’t fade or crack from sunlight. You should also clear away any debris and rubbish that may blow against it.
You can also place a waterproof cover over the chair. These are available from most hardware stores and come in a range of sizes to fit most chair sizes. They are made from a light, water-resistant material that fits easily over the chair.
There are also drawstrings at the bottom so you can secure it tightly in place. This will prevent rain or snow from getting into the chair.
Where can I get replacement parts for my chair?
Over the years, you may need to replace parts of your chair. Luckily, most parts are quite inexpensive and you can get them from most hardware stores or online. You can find replacement parts for your furniture by searching online or visiting your local hardware store.
Above: A range of replacement parts for furniture are available from most home improvement centers.
How can I repair damage to my chair?
As with any piece of wooden furniture, your chair will suffer wear and tear over time. Unfortunately, if you have neglected to treat your chair with a protective sealant or wax, this can lead to cracking and splitting which is very difficult to repair.
If the damage is on the surface of the wood only, you can try treating it with a good quality furniture wax. These are widely available from most home improvement or hardware stores. Apply the wax according to the manufacturer’s instructions and remove any excess.
This should protect the chair from moisture and prevent it from cracking further.
If the crack persists or runs deeper into the wood, you will need to make a permanent repair. For this, you can use wood filler. This comes in a kit with a tube of glue and fine abrasive paper to smooth it out.
Follow the instructions on the package and you should get a good repair. Once it has dried, give it a coat or two of wax to protect it from moisture.
Remember that if your chair was not properly treated in the first place, these repairs may only be temporary as they won’t prevent it from happening again in the future.
Above: Wood filler and wood wax are available from most home improvement centers to fill cracks and provide long-lasting protection.
Can I re-paint or re-stain my chair?
As with repairing damage, if your chair has not been properly treated or sealed, this will lead to more damage later on. It is best to start from scratch and repaint or re-stain the chair.
Painting your furniture helps to protect it from moisture and makes repairs much easier should they be necessary in the future.
Staining your furniture is a good idea if you want to create the look of solid wood furniture without having to worry about upkeep or potential damage.
Whatever you do, never paint or stain directly over old varnish or paint as this will trap moisture in the wood and lead to cracking and peeling in the future. Always sand down to bare wood first.
You can pick up a good varnish or wood stain from your local hardware store. They even sell small tester bottles if you want to test an area first to make sure you get the desired look.
Your local home improvement store will also have a good selection of paints and stains suitable for your furniture.
When it comes to staining wooden chairs, a simple stain does the job but if you want to create a darker, richer look then you need to stain the chair twice. This process involves letting the chair dry thoroughly after you stain it the first time and then applying a second coat.
Always follow the instructions on your particular can of stain or paint as these vary.
Above: Staining wooden chairs can give them a rich, dark color but you need to stain the chair twice to achieve this color properly.
Whatever you do, don’t rush the process. Wait at least 24 hours before applying a second coat and longer is always better as this lets the stain sink deeper into the fibers of the wood.
Use a soft cloth to apply the stain in the same direction as the grain of the wood. Work on small sections at a time and make sure you remove all the stain off the cloth before moving on to a different area or you will end up with a uneven color.
Remember that you can always apply more stain but you can never take it off again.
Above: Using a soft cloth, apply stain in the direction of the grain. Work on small sections at a time.
When you have finished, leave the stain to dry for at least 24 hours and then apply a coat of varnish or wood protector (depending on the type of stain you chose) just as you did with the first coat. Again, leave this to dry for at least 24 hours before using and then you can use your newly restored chair.
Above: After staining, leave to dry for at least 24 hours before applying a coat of clear varnish or wood protector.
What other things can I do to prevent damage?
It should go without saying but that won’t stop us saying it anyway… check the chair before you sit on it, especially if it’s someone else’s. You would not be the first person to suffer a sharp splinter from an old chair.
Above: Check the chair before you sit on it and do not hesitate to reject it if there is any damage or a suspicious look or feel about it.
You can also buy furniture protectors that you put over your clothes before sitting on the furniture. These can be removed carefully before washing the clothes and they can usually be machine washed so they can extend the life of them.
Above: You can buy chair protectors that you place over your clothes before sitting on the furniture.
What maintenance does my furniture need?
It is true that you do not need to do anything at all to most types of wooden furniture. It will not grow legs and walk away, it will not fall apart or rot and it will not fade or wear out. However, there are a few simple things you can do to maintain your chairs and other wooden furniture and keep them looking good for as long as possible.
How often should I do these things?
Dust your furniture at least once a week. Do not use harsh chemicals to do this as they can damage the wood. A soft cloth will remove most dust and dirt and you can also use a damp cloth (not dripping wet) to remove any remaining marks.
Above: Keeping your furniture clean is one of the easiest ways to prevent damage.
Wax your furniture at least once a year. This helps to protect the wood from everyday knocks and scratches as well as making it look good. Again, use a good quality wax and follow the instructions on the tin or bottle.
Most require you to apply a thin coat of wax with a cloth and then buff up the paste with a second, dry cloth when it is still soft.
Again, leave the wax to dry for at least a day before placing anything on the furniture.
Above: Applying wax regularly helps to protect your furniture from everyday knocks and scratches.
What do I do if my chair has got wet?
If your chair has gotten wet or been exposed to moisture then move it somewhere well ventilated and allow it to dry out completely. Do not place it next to a radiator or heater as this could cause the moisture to evaporate too quickly and may cause cracks to appear.
Above: Do not allow a chair that has gotten wet to dry next to a heater, radiator or any other heat source.
Move it to a cool, well ventilated place and allow it to dry out naturally. Do not place it in direct sunlight as this can cause the chair to warp and crack.
If you have dried the chair successfully then apply a coat of wax to the chair as soon as possible. This will help strengthen the wood and prevent the chair from drying out too quickly in future.
Above: If you carry out the advice above, your furniture should last a lifetime and then some.
Do I need to do anything else to my chair?
You may want to place felt pads on the bottom of any chairs that roll on the floor. This prevents scratches to wooden floors and can even prevent small marks appearing on any carpeted floors if you place the pads under the legs.
Sources & references used in this article:
Folding adirondack chair by CL Young – US Patent 5,911,469, 1999 – Google Patents
Choosing the best writers residency: dare to step outside your comfort zone by S Plumly – The American Poetry Review, 2011 – JSTOR
Adirondack chair by E Greenwood – Poets & Writers Magazine, 2012 – go.gale.com